Saturday, November 18, 2006

National slow-worm compost survey

The slow-worm has suffered dramatic declines in recent decades, mainly due to habitat loss and intensive land-use. So the populations remaining in allotments and gardens could be of particular importance to the survival of this species, especially in urban areas, in much the same way as common frogs do very well in garden ponds.

The Herpetological Conservation Trust think that unkempt areas of garden are the most important factor, but compost heaps could provide a key focus for slow-worm activity in the garden or allotment. In order to help us understand more about slow-worms and their use of compost heaps, the National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) is undertaking a national Slow-worm Compost Survey.

For further details and a survey form follow the link here. Your records will be of great importance.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Regional Conference at Chatham Maritime

Yesterday saw the very successful regional conference of amphibian and reptile groups from South East England. The event was brilliantly organised by the Kent Amphibian and Reptile Group (KRAG) in the magnificent surroundings of the Wardroom at Chatham Maritime, now part of the University of Greenwich.

Our chair, Jenny Bacon (in front of the window in the picture above) wrote afterwards to Lee Brady, chair of KRAG "many thanks to you and your team for yesterday's conference. The Sussex group really enjoyed the day and I’m sure all of us leaving the conference were buzzing with discussions on planning and what more their group could do to help both amphibians and reptiles including making use of other groups who have similar agendas. As we are hosting the regional conference in 2007 we will of course let you and the other groups know date and venue as soon as possible."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A slow-worm link

An interesting story here about the translocation of slow-worms prior to the expansion of a schoool in rural Wiltshire. It is refreshing that the school authorities seems so relaxed about the issue.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Gardeners' World newts

The BBC TV programme Gardeners' World presented by Monty Don featured great crested newts today when they ensured that these amphibians were safe during the rebuilding of their pond.

Details can be seen by following this link. Another slice of very positive PR for the cresties!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Herps and developers

Barry Kemp has drawn attention to an important article on reptiles, amphibians and other protected fauna and the implications this has for developers. It was published in The Sunday Times on 29 October 2006.

To read it, and maybe respond, follow this link.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Add an Adder project

The national Herpetological Conservation Trust is keen to receive any records from Britain of adders, Vipera berus, past or present with the aim of building a picture of how these reptiles have declined or increased in various parts of the country.

For further details see

Friday, October 13, 2006

Frog in toilet query

Peter Hodge, the Sussex beetle recorder has asked the following:

"About 1/2 hour ago (5.30pm) I discovered a young Common Frog perched on the porcelain rim of our downstairs toilet. The only way it could possibly have got there is by swimming up through the sewer.

Is this something that frogs are known to do? If it is then it goes a long way to explaining why frogs sometimes turn up in places where there are no ponds or freshwater."

Does anyone know the answer?

Register for NARRS - the National Recording Scheme

A message from Chris Glee-Owen at the Herpetological Conservation Trust to all people who would like to take part in NARRS (National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme) monitoring programmes next year.

"Please pass this on to other members of SARG, societies, recording groups, friends, family and workmates who you think might want to join in the fun. We have created a register of potential NARRS participants where you can add your name and email address online, to be kept in the loop for NARRS developments. There is no commitment, and the aim is for us to build up a better picture of the numbers of potential surveyors and their geographical distribution."

"Please do take a minute to add your name to the register by going to the NARRS website and clicking on "What is NARRS?", and "Sign up for NARRS". Or you can click this link."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Creating lizard hibernacula

In the June edition of British Wildlife, there is an interesting short feature on hibernacula for viviparous lizards, Zootoca vivipara, (aka common lizard, Lacerta vivipara) in the Habitat management news section.

This refers to the excellent Conservation Evidence website and two on-line papers available there:

Aldus N., Parmenter J. & Showler D. (2005) Creating hibernacula for common lizards Lacerta vivipara, The Ham, Suffolk, England., Case 180.

Creating a reptile hibernaculum, Newbury Bypass, Berkshire, England
Extracted from: Stebbings R. (2000) Reptile hibernacula - providing a winter refuge. Enact, English Nature (England), 8, 2, 4-7

Both are available here: conservation evidence.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Newt-eating grass snakes

Our neighbours in Sedlescombe, East Sussex have up to seven grass snakes at a time in their small garden pond.

On one occasion one was photographed consuming a hapless newt (see lower picture) while a companion looked on with an expression of rather snake-like envy. In the last few days the snakes seem to have moved on, but they have left plenty of newts behind for future generations.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Adders galore

Dave Monk from Sedlescombe near Hastings saw large numbers of adders, as well as slow-worms, in Streetfield Wood in the north of the parish this April.

One of his photos shows an adder and a slow-worm sharing the same sunny patch (apparently without conflict) and the other shows a classic 'nest of vipers' with four adders (I think there are four) enjoying a party. Adders seem to be having a very good year at Sedlescombe and, I think, some other places so any other sightings would be welcome.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

2006 Annual General Meeting at Arlington

Despite the heavy rain a small group of members of the Committee met at the Fisherman's Lodge at Arlington Reservoir on 21 May 2006 and had a useful meeting. Among other things, we agreed to use more electronic means of communication and this weblog is one of the things that has been established as a result.

Another exciting initiative for 2007, our 20th anniversary,is the possibility of a book on Sussex reptiles and amphibians. We will post more on this when we have news.

The annual report and accounts will, of course, be published in for forthcoming newsletter.